Economy of France

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Economy - overview: France is in the midst of transition, from an economy that featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The government remains dominant in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries, but it has been relaxing its control since the mid-1980s. The Socialist-led government has sold off part of its holdings in France Telecom, Air France, Thales, Thomson Multimedia, and the European Aerospace and Defense Company (EADS). The telecommunications sector is gradually being opened to competition. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. The government has done little to cut generous unemployment and retirement benefits which impose a heavy tax burden and discourage hiring. It has also shied from measures that would dramatically increase the use of stock options and retirement investment plans; such measures would boost the stock market and fast-growing IT firms as well as ease the burden on the pension system, but would disproportionately benefit the rich. In addition to the tax burden, the reduction of the work week to 35-hours has drawn criticism for lowering the competitiveness of French companies.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.448 trillion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.7% (1999 est.), 3.1% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $24,400 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture:  3.3%
industry:  26.1%
services:  70.6% (1999)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 25.1% (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.5% (1999 est.), 1.7% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 25 million (2000)
Labor force - by occupation: services 71%, industry 25%, agriculture 4% (1997)
Unemployment rate: 11% (1999 est.), 9.7% (2000 est.)
Budget:
revenues:  $210 billion
expenditures:  $240 billion (2000 est.)
Industries: steel, machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics, mining; textiles, food processing; tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 2% (1999 est.), 3.5% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production: 497.26 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel:  9.69%
hydro:  14.39%
nuclear:  75.43%
other:  0.49% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 398.752 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 68.7 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 5 billion kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish
Exports: $325 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, iron and steel products; agricultural products, textiles and clothing
Exports - partners: EU 63% (Germany 16%, UK 10%, Spain 9%, Italy 9%, Belgium-Luxembourg 8%), US 8% (1999)
Imports: $320 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: crude oil, machinery and equipment, chemicals; agricultural products
Imports - partners: EU 62% (Germany 16%, Belgium-Luxembourg 11%, Italy 9%, UK 8%), US 7% (2000 est.)
Debt - external: $106 billion (1998)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $6.3 billion (1997)
Currency: French franc (FRF); euro (EUR)
note:  on 1 January 1999, the EU introduced the euro as a common currency that is now being used by financial institutions in France at a fixed rate of 6.55957 French francs per euro and will replace the local currency for all transactions in 2002.

SOURCE: The World Factbook

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